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Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 1997

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

Prometheus paid dearly when he stole fire from the gods and gave it to man, but his courage paid off. Fire now belongs to the people. So should electricity, says New York state Judge Joseph Harris, of Albany, who ruled last fall that state regulators could force open New York's electric industry, but warned against hidden favoritism:

"Prometheus," wrote Harris, "in breaking the monopoly of the gods and by giving electrical energy to mankind ... [should] not be demeaned by a mere transfer of that monopoly to the lords of industry.

Consumer Group Asks SEC To Stop Southern Co.'s Asia Move

Lori A. Burkhart

A Georgia-based consumer advocacy group, the Campaign for a Prosperous Georgia (CPG), has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to halt a move by The Southern Company to use up to 100 percent of its retained earnings for a $2.75 billion acquisition of 80 percent of the Asian utility company, Consolidated Electric Power of Asia.

Among other claims, CPG wants the SEC to reconsider an April 1996 decision that granted an exemption to The Southern Company from the provisions of the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA).

Worries in Congress.

People

Jay P. Lukens, formerly a principal at Energy Market Economics, Inc., was hired by The Economic Resource Group, Inc., as managing director and principal of the company's new Houston office.

Edison Source tapped Aram G. Sogomonian, a former executive at Enron Capital and Trade Resources as its new corporate risk management v.p. Sogomonian was Enron's director of risk analytics and asset price, and also has worked at Unocal.

Larry Grossman, a senior v.p. at Cassidy & Associates, was retained by the Council on Superconductivity for American Competitiveness as executive director.

States Sue After DOE Says It Won't Act on Nuclear Waste

Lori A. Burkhart

A group of 40 state agencies has joined with 33 utilities and the Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition (NWSC) to file a lawsuit in federal district court after the Department of Energy (DOE) reported that it would not comply with a federal court mandate to accept high-level radioactive waste for permanent storage as of January 31, 1998, and begin removing such waste from temporary storage at some 73 power plants in 34 states.

The D.C. Circuit had ruled against the DOE last summer. (See, Indiana-Michigan Power Co. v.

Joules

Sears, Roebuck and Co. selected Enova Energy as a partner in a "regional energy alliance." Enova Energy, an Enova Corp. subsidiary, will design and install a technical learning center at Sears' Tucson, AZ department store. The company also will provide energy services at other Sears stores in several western states. The learning center will be one of a nationwide system of energy-efficient stores used as models and for the testing and training of facility operations equipment. All of the store's services will be aimed at improving energy efficiency and reducing costs.

In Brief...

Sound bites from state and federal regulators.

Natural Gas Briefs

Gas Marketing Affiliates. Indiana finds no jurisdiction to regulate Proliance Energy, LLC, a brokering and energy services affiliate of Indiana Gas Co., Inc. and Citizens Gas and Coke Utility, but says it will regulate the utilities in their transactions with Proliance. Case No. 40437, Sept. 27, 1996 (Ind.U.R.C.).

Gas Regulatory Reform. Ohio proposes alternative regulatory procedures for natural gas local distribution companies. Case No. 96-700-GA-ORD, Sept. 26, 1996 (Ohio P.U.C.).

Employee Incentives.

WSCC Endorses Mandatory Protocols

Lori A. Burkhart

The Board of Trustees of the Western Systems Coordinating Council (WSCC) has endorsed a new reliability compact that would require mandatory compliance and enforcement of established electric system reliability protocols in the Western U.S.

WSCC said it is taking a leadership role in overhauling the existing "voluntary" reliability management process and replacing it with a new framework to strengthen the roles, responsibilities, and authorities of WSCC and the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC).

State Take Lead in Telecom Reform

Phillip S. Cross

A federal court blocks FCC's "TELRIC" cost rule, but some states endorse it anyway.

With the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) having lost a major court battle last fall, the state public utility commission (PUCs) have taken the lead in the deregulation of local telephone service promised a year ago when President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (the "Act").

Some states have opened generic investigations; others have chosen to proceed case-by-case in individual arbitration proceedings.

Backers of Transmission Line Would Win Capacity Rights

Lori A. Burkhart

Massachusetts-based New England Electric System (NEES) plans to sidetrack possible opposition by offering first rights to firm service on a proposed 25-mile electric transmission line to any potential users who will support the line during its permitting phase.

The new line, a 600-megawatt, high-voltage, direct-current (HVDC) submarine transmission cable from Connecticut to Long Island, would begin and end on utility property, requiring no new land takings and presumably raising few environmental issues.

LDC Would Act as "Marketer"

Phillip S. Cross

The North Carolina Utilities Commission has approved a proposal by Public Service Co. of North Carolina (the "LDC") to market gas supplies and unused pipeline capacity to large users through a joint venture between its own affiliate and a non-affiliated gas marketer.

The affiliate, PSNC Production Corporation, will own 50% of the new venture. The second venture partner is an unnamed, nonaffiliated marketing company that operates on a nationwide basis.

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